The Things We Carry

At just about every one of my yoga sessions, the instructor has at some point walked over to me and adjusted my shoulders. “Shoulders down,” she coaxes me, pushing on them gently.

“You don’t understand,” I want to tell her, “that’s how I keep my head on straight.”

“That right there represents 45 years of well-honed, carefully-compounded tension. It’s what keeps me upright and steeled.”

But whatever it is I am carrying there in my shoulders no more keeps me strong than those other things we carry with us as protective amulets.

The clutter we accumulate as distractions.
The addictions we rely on for support.
The consternation we let run rampant in our heads.
The old stories we tell ourselves.

They don’t make us who we are. They don’t support who we are. They don’t strengthen who we are.

They just bind us up. Torque our intentions. Burden our resolve.

“The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go,” writes Steve Maraboli in his book Life, the Truth, and Being Free.

“Shoulders down,” my yoga instructor encourages. “Let go.”

• • •

“The Things We Carry,” ©2012, Jen Payne, Branford, CT

Photo from shows men carrying grapes at a vineyard.

6 thoughts on “The Things We Carry

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  1. Letting Go sounds so easy, and freeing, and yet I have found that it can take a long time to learn how to “let go”. I’ve made the mistake of running a message in my head that says I will never be able to unlock the secret of learning how to let go. But then, rather than arguing with myself about what I can, or cannot do, I’ve tried instead to override that voice and listen to the one that says “I can hold on to new thoughts”. By simply holding on to something new, I leave less room for what existed before. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. Great thoughts! Why is it that our shoulders carry our stories? It feels so good to let go….can’t wait for the day it becomes as natural as breathing!

  3. It really is ridiculous how much we carry around. If it isn’t “stuff” it’s mental clutter that distracts from breathing life in as deeply as possible. We must let go. :-)

    1. AGREED! I watched How to Cook Your Life last week and there’s this great scene where they explain a walking meditation. How all you need to is pay attention as you LIFT, STEP, PLACE. Anything else, they say, is thinking. So you note to yourself: thinking. And then keep going LIFT, STEP, PLACE. I’ve been trying that – when my thoughts get a little assertive. “Thinking,” and then I try to get back to the moment: trees, path, rocks.

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